Background: Cyclophilins (CyPs) are cellular proteins that are essential to hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. Since cyclosporine A was discovered to inhibit HCV infection, the CyP pathway contributing to HCV replication is a potential attractive stratagem for controlling HCV infection. Among them, CyPA is accepted to interact with HCV nonstructural protein (NS) 5A, although interaction of CyPB and NS5B, an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), was proposed first.
Methods: CyPA, CyPB, and HCV RdRp were expressed in bacteria and purified using combination column chromatography. HCV RdRp activity was analyzed in vitro with purified CyPA and CyPB.
Results: CyPA at a high concentration (50× higher than that of RdRp) but not at low concentration activated HCV RdRp. CyPB had an allosteric effect on genotype 1b RdRp activation. CyPB showed genotype specificity and activated genotype 1b and J6CF (2a) RdRps but not genotype 1a or JFH1 (2a) RdRps. CyPA activated RdRps of genotypes 1a, 1b, and 2a. CyPB may also support HCV genotype 1b replication within the infected cells, although its knockdown effect on HCV 1b replicon activity was controversial in earlier reports.
Conclusions: CyPA activated HCV RdRp at the early stages of transcription, including template RNA binding. CyPB also activated genotype 1b RdRp. However, their activation mechanisms are different.
General significance: These data suggest that both CyPA and CyPB are excellent targets for the treatment of HCV 1b, which shows the greatest resistance to interferon and ribavirin combination therapy.
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